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Poll: 60% support bringing back conscription

Poll: 60% support bringing back conscription

A poll conducted by Academia Sinica shows that better than half of Taiwan’s population are in favor of conscription to fill the ranks of the island’s military. Examining the results, DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim said the poll indicates that the people of Taiwan are committed to the defense of their homeland, Hsiao said that if the Green camp prevails in next year’s elections its think tank may conduct a survey of its own to verify the findings of the Academia Sinica survey. If the results are definitive it would consider re-imposing the draft.

Minister of National Defense Kao Kuang-chi demurred, saying that the MND has already committed to building an all-volunteer military and "We will follow the direction we have already set for ourselves."

At the same time, voices in the Blue camp suggested that Hsiao was not expressing her own opinion but was rather ‘testing the water’ on behalf of Tsai Ing-wen, the likely DPP candidate for president in the presidential election next January 16.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang opined, "She is testing the water temperature, she is checking the wind, and I hope Tsai Ing-wen will come out and state directly whether she supports the idea of a volunteer force and whether she intends to revert to conscription if she is elected president. She might want to scrap the all-volunteer army, but I think it really will not be easy to do so now."

The Academia Sinica telephone poll, which was conducted in February during the Lunar New Year break, asked respondents, "Are you in favor of restoring conscription as a way to build up the military in Taiwan?" The findings proved to be fairly consistent, with support for the draft seen at 62% for those aged 20 to 29 years old and nearly 70% among those 30 to 39 years old. Overall, well over half of those surveyed supported the restoration of conscription.

Defense Minister Kao has repeatedly insisted that the MND will not backtrack on its current drive to convert to an all-volunteer force. He admitted that President Ma’s drive to rely on recruitment alone has run into some financial difficulties and has already been delayed two years past its original target date. Kao said the recruitment target for 2015 has been set at only 140,000, a far cry from the minimum of 176,000 troops needed for the military.

He added that if the DPP intends to hold a "comprehensive review" the idea of restoring the draft if it wins the presidential election next year, it would “open up a whole can of worms” for the military.

Updated : 2021-09-23 08:56 GMT+08:00